Turning abandoned elevated railways into parks is so Aughts: the new hottness for public parks is clearly below ground, people. Morlocks needs their green spaces too! To that end, three gentlemen are trying to persuade the city to turn an abandoned trolley terminal beneath Delancey Street into a park. They hope to fill the the vast cavern with sunlight thanks to fancy fiber optic cables. New York magazine has already dubbed the project the Low Line—despite another "Low Line" park still being pushed in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx—but the group angling for the below-grade gardens creation want to call it the Delancey Underground.
So how would an underground park even work? James Ramsey, a satellite engineer turned architect, explains the idea to New York like this:
“Technology enables us to create an appealing green space in an underserved neighborhood,” says Ramsey. The key, he says, is the “remote skylight,” a system that channels sunlight along fiber-optic cables, filtering out harmful ultraviolet and infrared light but keeping the wavelengths used in photosynthesis. “We’re channeling sunlight the way they did in ancient Egyptian tombs, but in a supermodern way.” Ramsey envisions a stand of dozens of lamppostlike solar collectors on the Delancey Street median, feeding a system of fixtures down below.
This could take some time though. Building an underground public space is not cheap and such a park will not only need to get control of the land from the MTA (which owns it) but will also need a whole lot of approvals from city officials. And a lot of money. First up to weigh in on the idea? Community Board 3, which will be introduced to the plan on September 21. In the meantime—if you just can't wait—you can get your underground fix by watching urban explorers look around in a nearby abandoned train station right here.